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Joel is a Christchurch graphic designer and urban artist with a proclivity for creating art around the themes of beauty and decay.
What are the inspirations for your various art pieces featuring faces? My inspiration comes from everywhere. A lot of what I paint has been influenced from my past work in graphic design and commercial art. I fuse a lot of found photographic elements of texture, shapes, patterns from all things that I am interested in like architecture, design, typography, nature, sports and urban decay, usually collaged together around a human form that again is collaged together from a mixture of different sources.
How did you get into creating street art? I was always into drawing as long as I can remember. The style and nature of my work now is stencil-based, so these techniques lend themselves well to going large. It just came out of wanting to challenge myself to paint larger and larger, really.
What was the first bit of street art you created, and was it any good? This is going way back, the first mural I was asked to do I must have been 11 or 12, for a friend’s dad’s restaurant in St Albans. What I can remember of it was awesome, haha. It was of sacks of flour and birds, I think, from memory. It’s long gone now, under layers and layers of paint.
Tell us about a piece of street art that’s inspired you. There is no specific piece I can think of, but some artists that I really admire and have influenced my work in one way or another are Conor Harrington, James Jean, Rone, Daniel Arsham and Telmo Miel.
How does your process work? My process with street artworks is always changing and developing. Every time I paint a mural I find a new technique or process that I learn and can take into the next piece. I love the challenge of these works. You are always dealing with various challenges and constraints within mural works, like weather, access, height et cetera. Coming up with ideas is the easy part: I have a massive stack of old notebooks with hundreds of sketches and ideas that I am always adding to and referring back to. Each mural work is different – sometimes it’s a smaller studio piece that I really want to paint at large scale and I find the perfect wall and other times it’s working with brands or companies, large and small, within a brief. Sometimes this is tricky, working as an artist trying to keep true to your style and what you want to be painting, and working with these brands within guidelines. I really enjoy this challenge and sometimes working within restraints helps me learn more about my process and myself as an artist.
Talk us through the piece you’ve done in Christchurch that you love the most. One piece I am really fond of is a piece out in Kaiapoi, just over the railway tracks. I really enjoyed working on this piece. I was asked to be the guest artist at the Kaiapoi Art Expo last year and as part of this I was commissioned to paint a mural.
Where’s your favourite place to go in Christchurch for a:
Morning coffee? At home.
Post-painting beer? At home.
Hit of creative inspiration? The surf.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? No matter how hard you work, someone is working harder.